While Wintering in Aaren, and enjoying their new rights and privileges as scions of House Sandemar, Erol, Gillam, and Phaedra each engaged in a bit of research, in an attempt to answer questions they had discovered in their previous exploits.
Ackamann Stones, after an old scholar, named Ackamann, who was reknown for his quirk of carrying obscene amounts of notepaper on his travels, which were extensive, and writing down his every observation into volumes. It was he who first noticed similarities between Ackamann stones in both Altae and Rabhanast, among other areas, in terms of indestructibility, and the shape classification into rods, boxes, and disks. The first research into the stones was largely based on his notes, several decades after his death, and speculation as to their purpose has continued in the several hundred years since. Some theorize that Ackamann stones served as currency, while others suppose that they were (and are) objects of great power, but the access and function of which is unknown. Others suppose that they may simply have served as decoration and symbols of office. These latter theorists are supremely unpopular.
The legend of Rabhanastran Djinn
There are old stories of a hero called Saafh’Adin, the golden, who rid the southern wastes of the La’Habin. These La’Habin were monsters of smoke and flame, and had powers of possession. When they emerged from the wastes, villages emptied one by one. It was said that an entire army sent to deal with them simply lowered their arms and surrendered willingly upon first contact with them. It was at this time that Saafh’Adin, blessed of the gods, ventured into the wilderness. He tracked the La’Habin and their minions to a great mountain, and there, through combat and cleverness, slew the monsters of flame, and freed those therein enslaved. And so ended the La’Habin reign of terror.
Book of obscure and exotic animals
Contains a list of some interesting and exotic animals and beasts from the known world:
Giant Cave Scorpions – A subterranean species, with varieties found in both the mountain caves of Aria and Banythia, as well as the southern Rabhanastran mountains. The scorpions are generally harmless, as they are averse to bright light and loud sounds, and will flee from larger animals, including humans, if given the chance. If startled or cornered, however, the cave scorpions are more than able to defend themselves with their claws, strong enough to part flesh and crack bone, as well as their sting. Especially this latter weapon is best avoided at all cost, as the sting is excruciatingly painful, and even if not immediately fatal, produces profound and long-lasting muscle weakness in the victim, often causing those afflicted to become unable to escape from the cave, and later dying from other causes.
Amelkedes, more commonly known as ‘Climbers’, are a form of beast-men native to the seaside cliffs of Qar’Tam, in the far Western reaches of the Rabhanastran empire. There are also stories of other climbers far to the East, beyond the reach of civilization. The climbers make their homes in small groups high on the sides of cliffs, and are primarily carnivorous, feeding on fish and other small animals they catch. The climbers have extremely keen eyesight, and can spot prey from hundreds of yards away. Feathered, they have long, deformed shoulder blades, and skin folds on their backs that, when extended, form a sort of ‘wing’. Using their wings and similar, smaller folds on their lower legs to steer, the climbers cannot truly fly, but they can glide with considerable skill and maneuverability. They use this ability to move between cliff faces, and when hunting, ambushing terrestrial prey, diving for fish, and even intercepting birds in mid air. Standing at about 4 feet tall, the climbers are very slim, and possess long, articulate fingers and toes that end in sharp claws.
Petal-bugs are an indigenous insect found In East and Central Altae, and extending north into Caramnia. The life cycle of this insect is most peculiar. The central Altean Pear tree, in the spring, produces flowers, but no petals. Then, one morning, innumerable Petal-bugs emerge from seemingly everywhere and congregate in the trees, drinking necter from the flowers, and appearing for all the world as as bright orange flower petals. The insects, gorged on nector, produce a powerfully-scented oil, with slightly intoxicating effects, and then swarm around the trees, in a frenzy of mating. In at least one Caramnian culture, this oil is gathered and used as a sweet perfume to anoint the dead. In the evening, the Petal Bugs will mate and swarm, and by the next morning will have disappeared again until the next year. Specimens that are caught and collected have the unfortunate tendency of dying the following day and shriveling up into a dry white husk, which then disintegrated into dust when touched or disturbed.
The Al’Qeri, as they are known to Marian traders, and more commonly known as “Frog Men,” are neither wholly frogs, nor are most of them men. They are largely nomadic, and can be found in underwater bubble-cities, or on land near water, oftentimes found in trees. The Al’Qeri have a fondness for plants, and are are generally amiable and welcoming, albeit easily startled. Al’Qeri society is tribal, nomadic, and Patriarchical. The reason for the Al’Qeri’s nomadishness is unknown, but there is speculation that the unusual aspects of their physiology and society leave them unable to assimilate well into traditional settled societies.
The Grün are a bestial race from the dense forest-lands South-East of Shaien. In their homeland, they are the apex predators. The male Grün are hulking, muscled beasts, on the order of 6-8 feet tall and possessing great strength. The Females are smaller, of average size compared to baseline humans. The 4-armed Grün are adept at climbing trees in dense forestry, unlike anything known in Aria, and they are also adept at digging, be it through dense undergrowth or soil. The Grün are covered in thick, dark bristles, that is extremely hard, said to even be proof against many weapons. Not much else is known about these beasts, however, as their land is difficult to access, even harder to survive in, and the Grün are known to kill savagely kill intruders on sight.
Some examples of magical weapons found in the past, name, short description, current location (but keep in mind, the book is over a hundred years old)
Alithis – the Spear of Truth – this Paesh spear, though short, and ceremonial in style, could be used to test the truthfulness of a victim. The spear would be thrust into the victim, and, should they utter only truth, when withdrawn, there will be no injury. Could only be wielded by a favored priest of the gods. Other handlers would suffer severe burns. Current location unknown.
Anemos – The agile knife – This curved sword requires intricate ritual to bind to a bearer, but once bound, grants its wielder preternatural speed in combat. Current location unknown, formerly in the possession of the captain of the Shaltean Emperor’s guard. Lost during the collapse of the New Shaltean Empire.
Amach – A legendary Mrissan bow, was owned by the great unifier, Han’Baaka. With this bow, he was able to outshoot any challenger, even while blindfolded. It was said that this bow would send arrows where he intended, regardless of circumstance. Current Location Unknown.
Elam – The Scholar’s whip – This barbed whip causes, on contact with flesh, excruciating pain in the victim, and is rumored to allow the wielder to exert domination over the victim by sheer force of will. Control and activation mechanisms unknown. Currently in possession of the Great Library of Rabhanast.
Sakhra – Knightsbane, aka The Poor Staff – This staff, made of Paesh, seems to be able to ignore the protective effects of armor, inflicting its full effect even on well armored opponents. Does not seem to require activation. Last known to be on a Rabhanastran warship that was destroyed in battle in the Antirran Strait. Presumed lost.